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You've already crossed continents by yourself, coming to America to rejoin mom and make a new life here. You will get to college, in spite of a car wreck that leaves your body badly broken and scarred. Because, after months of being together, your first real boyfriend tells you his parents won't approve of you. The sovereignty of your body will be violated again. By then, you'll be silenced into submission and it will take you decades to find your voice. You'll chisel a life for yourself, out of thin air and carry on as if nothing ever happened. In fact, you don't know it yet, but your actual career will be about tasting the world. When the pain has finally receded, you begin to understand.
Back in America, there are many brown and black faces, yet you'll always feel like an outsider looking in.
Crestfallen doesn’t even begin to describe the expression of a young cook who, moments after presenting the host, judge, and executive producer with a tasting dish, is met with a raised eyebrow.
It’s fitting, then, that when I bring this up to her, she can’t even pretend. “I really can’t hide it.” But there’s something different about her brand of honest judging.
Lakshmi is now an executive producer on the show, which in recent seasons has been praised for being a driving force in championing gender equity and inclusivity in the food industry.
Thursday’s finale, for example, will see two women and no white men competing in the final three.
show Tuesday morning and was completely candid about her past mistakes—but she wouldn't call them that.
We’re speaking at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, where she was interviewed on a “Food For Thought” panel sponsored by Land O’Lakes, Inc.’s “The Copernicus Project,” aimed at exploring the current state of our food system and what its future may look like.
Lakshmi, who started as a food writer and cookbook author before becoming one of the most recognizable culinary personalities in the world thanks to her time on , is a natural fit for the conversation, which was well-timed to the Bravo competition’s season finale, airing this Thursday.
“I felt shut out of things because of things that identified me as different that were beyond my control, whether it was because my skin was brown or my name was funny.
I just want to level the playing field.” Lakshmi was born in Madras (now Chennai) India, but moved to the United States with her mother, who separated from her father and needed to start a new life away from the country’s stigma against divorce.
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But it quickly becomes clear that, for her, food is a gateway for speaking about her own life and the ways in which we interact as a culture.